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Miami Hurricanes Football: Backup Quarterback Battle Down to Two

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Courtesy UM

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – University of Miami head football coach Mark Richt said the backup quarterback race is down to a pair of redshirt sophomores.

“As far as the quarterback position is concerned, the No. 1 guy, of course, is Brad [Kaaya],” Richt said. “Right now what I'm going to do is work [Vincent] Testaverde and Malik [Rosier] with the twos, and give them all the reps with the twos and kind of let them battle it out. The rest of the guys, I want them to keep competing.”

Despite recognizing Testaverde and Rosier as a step ahead for the backup job, Richt said the race is far from over – even for redshirt freshman Evan Shirreffs and freshman Jack Allison.

“They're in still a lot of drill work...if somebody struggles in that two unit match, it might be someone [else] bumps in there,” Richt said. “It's not 100-percent solid that one of those two will be the No. 2, but they're in the driver's seat right now. They'll get all the reps with the number twos."

Kaaya said there is plenty to like about both Rosier and Testaverde.

“[Vincent] has gotten a lot better, getting his mechanics down pat. He’s smooth,” Kaaya said. “He delivers the ball and throws a tight spiral. He’s just gotten more of the offense down pat and operate more efficiently.”

Rosier made one start in 2015, throwing for 272 yards in a 30-27 win at Duke in Durham, N.C. He also saw action in the team's matchup with Clemson. Testaverde, who redshirted in 2015 to retain eligibility, transferred to Miami after spending the 2014 season at Texas Tech.

“Just seeing him do the right thing consistently,” Kaaya said of the coaching staff’s focus with Rosier. “There may be a deep route downfield that he might be able to force and might be a close ball that he might be able to catch, or might not. He just wants him to focus on taking the more high-percentage throws.”

Kaaya said between spring ball, summer workouts and fall practice, all of the quarterbacks should feel comfortable in Richt’s offensive scheme.

“They look pretty close to [mastering the offense] right now,” Kaaya said. “There shouldn’t be any excuses for why they can’t get in there and be able to operate. We’ve all been in this offense the same amount of time. It should be pretty close to natural for them at this point.”


Read on for more from #CanesCamp Practice No. 17 on the Greentree Practice Fields:


Head Coach Mark Richt

Opening Statement…

"I don't know what practice this was, whether it was [number] 17 or 18, somewhere in there. We're over halfway. We're getting ready to break into scout teams here in a little bit, probably by Monday we'll at least know who's on the scout team and who is working with the one [first-string] and two [second-string] units. We won't be working threes [third-string] much, if any, any more after this point. We have one more day where we'll do that. As far as the quarterback position is concerned, the No. 1 guy, of course, is Brad [Kaaya]. Right now what I'm going to do is work [Vincent] Testaverde and Malik [Rosier] with the twos, and give them all the reps with the twos and kind of let them battle it out. The rest of the guys, I want them to keep competing. They're in still a lot of drill work...if somebody struggles in that two unit match, it might be someone [else] bumps in there. It's not 100-percent solid that one of those two will be the No. 2, but they're in the driver's seat right now. They'll get all the reps with the number twos."

On what he saw from Vincent Testaverde Jr....

"First of all, very tight race. There were times when I would have said Evan [Shirreffs] is in that bunch. There were times where I would have said Jack [Allison] is in that two-man deal. It took a long time to get to this point. No one really was so consistent that I was like, 'This is a slam dunk.' All these guys, even the top two, they've not done everything like we want it done on a consistent basis. But they show flashes, and they're a little more solid, maybe, in their accuracy or the decision-making process. But, even today, a bad decision here and there that we just can't have. Now you're in that position, what are you going to do with it? You're getting the reps, what are you going to do with it? That's part of the exercise. Once a guy feels like it's down to two, what happens to him? Does he continue to focus and get better, or does he spit the bit?"

On if having played for Texas Tech contributed to Testaverde Jr. being in the race for the No. 2 QB job…

"I didn't sit there and say because of that...there were moments when he was out of the top two for the No. 2 spot."

On which of the backup quarterbacks has been the most accurate in practice and scrimmages…

"Part of the reason why Malik and Testaverde are there is because of the accuracy issue. That's part of it - to say one over the other, I wouldn't say."

On what Evan Shirreffs needs to do to get back into the race for the No. 2 quarterback job…

"He just needs to keep taking the reps and knowing what to do, and hitting his target when it presents itself. Just accuracy will go a long way in his cards, like it does for all of them."

On what he has seen from Malik Rosier...

"I think Malik has a tendency to want to do something heroic. I keep telling him I don't need a hero, I need someone to run the system. I need someone to do what they're supposed to do on a down-by-down basis. There's two things that I'm teaching them - if there's a bad play, don't turn it into a catastrophe. In other words, sometimes we call a route and it's a one-high beater route, and we guess wrong. It ends up being two deep - well don't throw it into coverage. Throw the ball away. Or it's perfect coverage, but the guard gets beat by the three-technique [defensive tackle] and he's up in your face. Well, you might have to throw it away if you have time, or take a sack and protect the ball. Don't throw it under duress up in the air and let the ball get batted around and picked. Don't turn a bad play into a catastrophe. The other thing is, like I said before, most great plays are just a normal play that they do at an extraordinary time. Just be consistent in your reads, be consistent in your accuracy, be consistent in getting us in the right place, be consistent in declaring who the mike linebacker is and our run and passing game schemes to let everyone know who to block. Those are the things they have to do."

On naming two players in the race for the No. 2 quarterback job…

"This is about competition still. I'm not sure who the No. 2 is. By the time we play, I want to know who is the first guy in the game. Right now, I don't know who it is. That's why I'm doing that."

On if he has ever named two players in the race for the No. 2 quarterback job before…

"Sure. I'm not naming anything. I'm just saying these two guys are battling for the No. 2 spot. I might have said co-No. 2, but to me, there's two guys left that are going to get reps with the two units that is going to help us decide who should be in the game first."

On the play of the offensive line, and how many linemen he feels comfortable with in a game…

"From an assignemnt point of view, there's more…maybe six or seven. I'd say six or seven that are ready in all areas…assignment and just the skillset to get the job done, and being able to do it on a consistent enough basis to have some peace. The linemen are like quarterbacks  - certain guys will show flashes of doing it right, but if you do it right three times in a row and on the fourth time you whiff a guy, you're going to get somebody hurt - a back or a quarterback. I think guys are a lot closer to being ready than we were when we started in the spring, for sure. I'd say about six or seven. There's other guys that at least know what to do, and you can function like that. If a linemen knows what to do, and puts his hat in the right spot, and he fights like mad, even if he's not dominating, you can function and play."

On what he saw from Dionte Mullins, participating in his first practice…

"One play. He ran a little stop route. The ball was a little high, he snatched it, tucked it and turned up field, nice and smooth. Looks like a really smooth athlete."


Quarterback Brad Kaaya

On quarterback Vincent Testaverde…

“He’s gotten a lot better, getting his mechanics down pat. He’s smooth. He delivers the ball and throws a tight spiral. He’s just gotten more of the offense down pat and operate more efficiently.”

On what Coach Mark­ Richt is emphasizing with quarterback Malik Rosier …

“Just seeing him do the right thing consistently. There may be a deep route downfield that he might be able to force and might be a close ball that he might be able to catch or might not. He just wants him to focus on taking the more high percentage throws.”

On quarterback Evan Shirreffs…

“He seems to have the offense pretty down pat. He just had a hand injury that kind of hampered him throughout this whole process. We’ll see as the weeks go on. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what he needs to work on. I guess just show coach that he can deliver the ball on target. His hand injury that he had at the start of camp kind of hampered him a little bit, but we will see how he holds up.”

On how the rest of the quarterbacks have done learning the offense…

“They look pretty close to [mastering the offense] right now. There shouldn’t be any excuses for why they can’t get in there and be able to operate. We’ve all been in this offense the same amount of time. It should be pretty close to natural for them at this point.”


Offensive Lineman Bar Milo

On what he has been working on throughout camp from the guard position…

“I have the fundamentals down, I just need to make sure I know the rules and the gap combos and all that stuff, to make sure I have it down to an art so I don’t mess anyone else’s assignment up.”

On being one of the six or seven linemen Coach Richt would feel comfortable playing on the line…

“I have yet to see. Earlier in training camp, I was having a rough time. I was having mental issues. I went to Coach [Richt] and told him, and I can’t thank him enough for how patient he has been with me. I haven’t been playing how I wanted to this training camp, but I’m starting to get back into that fun, festive mood that I’m usually in when I get on the field, taking pride in the protection. If I’m one of those seven people, I’m glad he can trust me. I think I have a long way to go to where he can actually rely on me to put me in a game if someone goes down, but I’m excited to see what happens.”

On the move from tackle to guard, and if it has helped…

“I think so. I’m not saying anything less about guard – I know that tackle is a hard position to master. I think going at guard, maybe with my frame or whatever it is, I feel more comfortable. I have people on both sides of me, people with experience. It helps a lot. So far, I’ve felt really comfortable. I feel like I can just really play the game again. I’m trying not to be hard [on myself], because Coach is going to be hard on me because he wants us to be able to protect well. I’m just trying to master the fundamentals, get the assignments right and play the game.”


Offensive Lineman Tyree St. Louis

On taking practice reps at left tackle…

“It’s a little bit different. I haven’t even really touched that position since my senior year of high school, especially going against some of the competition out here. But it’s the best thing for me to be able to play both, especially in college.”

On rotating at left tackle and right tackle…

“How it is now, I’ll get all of the No. 2 reps, then I rotate some with Sunny [Odogwu] at [first-team] right tackle. Now I’m starting to do the same thing at left [tackle] with Trevor [Darling].”


Offensive Lineman Alex Gall

On who has been working at backup tackle…

“I guess Tyree [St. Louis] is rotating around the first and second [team]. He’s all over the place. Most of the time, I don’t really know about their rotation. I’m more focused on the interior rotation.”

On being one of the six or seven linemen Coach Richt would feel comfortable playing on the line…

“I would hope so. I don’t really know what Coach thinks, I would leave that up to him. But I hope that he would trust me. I want to earn his trust. If I’m not there, I want to be there, and if I am, I want to stay there and get further.”


Offensive Lineman Nick Linder

On the backup quarterback race…

“I think they’re all good quarterbacks. I know nothing about that, I think you guys know more than I do. Those guys are doing good. You saw what Malik [Rosier] did last year against Duke. That was pretty exciting, that was a lot of fun. Vincent has some experience at Texas Tech…those are guys that, if something ever happened, they could step in possibly.”

On the offensive line changing its approach based on the quarterback…

“Not at all. You’re going to have a little difference, when you go with the same people – it’s just like the offensive line. When someone rotates in there, it’s all about that kind of cohesion and gel and all that kind of stuff. Really, people are always rotating around in that ‘Plan B’ type of deal. We have that cohesion.”

On playing center with different quarterbacks…

“Everyone is on the same page – cadences, play-calling, the way we check stuff. If Brad [Kaaya] was back there or Malik [Rosier] was back there, I wouldn’t know the difference. We’re talking the same, if I say something wrong, either of them would correct me. If they say something wrong, I would correct them.”


Offensive Lineman Tyler Gauthier

On whether he believes he is one of the team’s top offensive lineman...

"I hope so, but there are always ways for me to get better. There are always things for me to improve on and there’s always things that make you better. I’m not going to say that I am in that group because I have not been told that by coach (Richt). Once I know I’m in that group, that will be a different story but right now, I’m going to keep working on my craft.”